Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages

Advisor

Licia Fiol-Matta

Committee Members

Fernando Degiovanni

Elena Martínez

Subject Categories

Caribbean Languages and Societies

Keywords

Cuban Literature, Cultural Policy, Cuban Culture, Intellectuals, State

Abstract

This dissertation examines the relations between the projects Paideia, Diáspora(s), Generation Zero, and the cultural politics of the Cuban State. Through the analysis of a wide range of objects, such as programmatic documents, journals, literary works, blogs, and online magazines, the research focuses on the ways through which certain alternative projects intervene in state cultural politics. The first chapter concentrates on the project of cultural politics undertaken by Paideia (1989-90). I argue that Paideia introduces an antagonistic relationship between intellectuals and the State, questioning the institutional system of culture and restoring critical agency to intellectuals in order to obtain higher levels of autonomy. I demonstrate that Paideia is a project that aims at becoming an hegemonic enterprise that challenges the essential concepts of Revolution, intellectual, and culture.

The second chapter delves into Diáspora(s) (1997-2002), a group of writers and its homonymous journal. In contrast to Paideia, Diáspora(s) practiced open dissent as a strategy to confront both the lettered community and the official institutions in the Cuban cultural field. The journal was distributed illegally, outside of the institutional framework. Diáspora(s) published authors banned in Cuba, and centered on the relationship between literature and totalitarianism. In doing so, it challenged official narratives about identity, Nation, and the literary canon promoted by the cultural politics of the Revolution. Through the analysis of the journal and the books published by the members of the group, I show that Diáspora(s) builds a counter-archive which questions state-sanctioned publishers and impugns state interdictions on access to the cultural repertoire.

The third chapter addresses Generation Zero (Orlando L. Pardo Lazo, Jorge E. Lage, Osdany Morales, Legna Rodríguez, among others). It is formed by authors born in the early 1980s, who have published their works since the early 2000s. The research explores how their poetic and narrative works activate other strategies of representation in Cuban literature, which has been linked to realism since the Special Period, beginning shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. These new texts are less accommodated to the demands of the publishing market from outside Cuba. These writers displace national identitarian inquiries and claims of testimonial documentation. I posit that Generation Zero’s current narrative and poetry challenges previous cultural discourses on “Cubanness” by disseminating a symbolic media archive that is more global than national; in so doing they support anti-exceptionalism and cultural pluralism.

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